Food Art as Medicine

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Food Art as Medicine

I began to make time in the morning to create a little piece of art for breakfast, which I would then photograph, before sitting down to slowly, and mindfully eat my creation. I noticed that doing this was not only enjoyable, but that it also seemed to be really good for me on a number of levels.

 In my therapeutic work, I offered the task of creating healthy smoothie bowls as homework to Molly, an 18 year old eating disordered client.

 Molly’s dad died just before she was born, and Molly’s mother described feeling unable to bond with Molly from birth. Molly felt the pain of her mother’s rejection acutely.

 Initially Molly loved creating beautiful bowls but struggled to eat them. Over time she became able to enjoy eating her creations, and slowly she began to improve her self-esteem, and developed a healthier eating pattern.

 I also suggested the same homework with another client, Kelly. Kelly, in her late 30’s was single, over-weight, suffering from depression and emotionally detached from her body as a consequence of an earlier violent rape. We had been working for a number of weeks with art in sessions. Kelly loved art therapy and was excited to try making smoothie bowls. She found this enjoyable, and quickly experienced an improvement to her mood. She began to lose weight and her self-esteem and feeling of wellbeing improved.

 There is no way to know whether the improvements are a positive consequence of the smoothie bowl work or co-incidental, but I tend to suspect a connection.

 Smoothie bowls in effect are mandalas, a circular design that has ancient roots and symbolism.  Many cultures believe that mandalas have spiritual meaning. In psychology, Carl Jung described his practice of drawing daily mandalas as transformational and believed the mandala to be “a representation of the unconscious self.”.

 Art therapy is a powerful and effective therapy, and prescribing art as treatment was known as early as the 1950s. Simply creating art in smoothie bowls as an expressive form of therapy may have a beneficial effect.

There is also I feel, the potential for healing at a deep level from the process itself. Creating a smoothie bowl from healthy ingredients requires investing time, energy and intention on creating something of beauty and value. This in effect is a gift to the self, an act that expresses caring, respect and love for the self. In doing so this elevates the experience of eating, using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs to illustrate,  from a simply physiological one to one of love, and esteem.

The above is an extract of an article published by The Counsellors Cafe you can read the full article here 

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